AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin hosted a celebration Saturday morning to mark the redevelopment of the former site of the Home Depot store in north Austin.
The site, located at 7211 N. Interstate 35, is officially called the St. John Site. That location held “significant historical importance” for the Black community, according to an announcement from a group representing that modern community.
“Its roots trace back to the 1890s when the St. John Regular Missionary Baptist Association obtained 350 acres north of Austin to establish a freedman community with the St. John Industrial Institute and Orphanage as its anchor,” the city wrote in a release. That orphanage was in the current location of the ACC Highland campus, less than two miles from the St. John Site, according to the association’s website.
The city acquired the site in 2008 and worked with the St. John community to create a plan, which was adopted in 2020.
According to a City of Austin release announcing the demolition, the city planned a free, family-friendly event for Saturday that featured live music, local performances, children’s activities and breakfast tacos.
The city told KXAN that demolition of the old Home Depot building’s vertical structure would begin Aug. 14 and take three weeks.
That plan calls for a mixed-use, mixed-income property and will feature publicly accessible open spaces and community-focused commercial areas, according to the city. It will offer 526 units, with 50% dedicated to income-restricted affordable housing, while also expanding the current St. John Pocket Park to nearly triple its size, the city said, creating a larger open space complete with walking trails and a splash pad between St. John and Blackson Avenues.